Pennsylvania Station (New York City)

Pennsylvania Station, also known as New York Penn Station or simply Penn Station, is the main intercity railroad station in New York City and the busiest transportation facility of any kind in the Western Hemisphere, serving more than 600,000 passengers per weekday as of 2019.[5][6][a] It is located in Midtown Manhattan, beneath Madison Square Garden in the block bounded by Seventh and Eighth Avenues and 31st and 33rd Streets, and in the James A. Farley Building, with additional exits to nearby streets. It is close to Herald Square, the Empire State Building, Koreatown, and Macy's Herald Square.

Pennsylvania Station
New York, NY
Amtrak inter-city rail station
Long Island Rail Road commuter rail terminal
NJ Transit commuter rail terminal
ESC 1 Jan (8) jeh.jpg
Moynihan Train Hall in January 2021
LocationBounded by 7th & 9th Avenues and 31st & 33rd Streets
(under Madison Square Garden and in James A. Farley Building)
Manhattan, New York City
Owned byAmtrak
Line(s)Northeast Corridor, Empire Corridor
Platforms11 island platforms
Tracks21
Connections
New York City Subway:
​ ​ at 34th Street–Penn Station (7th Avenue)
​ ​ at 34th Street–Penn Station (8th Avenue)
PATH: JSQ–33, HOB–33, JSQ–33 (via HOB) (at 33rd Street)
MTA New York City Bus: M7, M20, M34 SBS, M34A SBS, Q32
Academy Bus: SIM23, SIM24
Columbia Transportation(Operated by Academy Bus): Brooklyn Commuter Route, Manhattan Commuter Route
Flixbus: Eastern Shuttle
Vamoose Bus
Construction
Disabled accessYes
Other information
Station codeAmtrak: NYP
IATA: ZYP
Fare zoneZone 1 (LIRR)
Zone 1 (NJ Transit)
History
Opened1910
Rebuilt1963–1968
Electrifiedyes, all tracks
Passengers
201727,296,100 annually[1][2] (NJT)
201710,397,729 annually[3] (Amtrak)
201769,722,560 annually; based on average arrivals and departures[4] (LIRR)
Services
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
Newark Penn
toward Washington, D.C.
Acela Stamford
toward Boston South
New Rochelle
Weekends
toward Boston South
Vermonter Stamford
toward St. Albans
Newark Penn
toward Norfolk, Newport News or Roanoke
Northeast Regional New Rochelle
toward Boston South or Springfield
Yonkers
toward Montreal
Adirondack Terminus
Newark Penn
toward Chicago
Cardinal
Newark Penn
toward Charlotte
Carolinian
Newark Penn
toward New Orleans
Crescent
Yonkers
toward Niagara Falls, New York
Empire Service
Yonkers
toward Rutland
Ethan Allen Express
Newark Penn
toward Harrisburg
Keystone Service
Croton–Harmon
toward Chicago
Lake Shore Limited
Yonkers
toward Toronto via  Niagara Falls, Ontario
Maple Leaf
Newark Penn
toward Pittsburgh
Pennsylvanian
Newark Penn
toward Savannah
Palmetto
Newark Penn
toward Miami
Silver Meteor
Silver Star
Preceding station LIRR Following station
Terminus Port Washington Branch Woodside
towards Great Neck or Port Washington
Hempstead Branch Woodside
towards Hempstead
Port Jefferson Branch Woodside
towards Huntington or Port Jefferson
Oyster Bay Branch Woodside
towards Oyster Bay
Ronkonkoma Branch Woodside
towards Greenport via  Ronkonkoma
Montauk Branch Woodside
towards Patchogue, Speonk or Montauk
West Hempstead Branch
weekdays
Woodside
towards West Hempstead
Babylon Branch Woodside
towards Wantagh or Babylon
Long Beach Branch Woodside
towards Long Beach
Far Rockaway Branch Woodside
towards Far Rockaway
Preceding station NJ Transit Following station
Secaucus Junction
toward Trenton
Northeast Corridor Line Terminus
Secaucus Junction
toward Bay Head
North Jersey Coast Line
Secaucus Junction
toward Hackettstown
Montclair-Boonton Line
Morristown Line
Secaucus Junction
toward High Bridge
Raritan Valley Line
Secaucus Junction
toward Gladstone
Gladstone Branch
Former services
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
Terminus Cape Codder
1986–1996
Stamford
toward Hyannis
Newark Penn
toward Tri-State
Hilltopper
1978–1979
Stamford
toward Boston South
Newark Penn
toward Washington, D.C.
Metroliner
1971–2006
Terminus
Montrealer
1972–1995
Rye
toward Montreal
Newark Penn
toward Kansas City
National Limited
1971–1979
Terminus
Newark Penn
toward Chicago
Broadway Limited
Until 1995
Three Rivers
1995–2005
Newark Penn
toward Kansas City
National Limited
Preceding station NJ Transit Following station
Newark Penn Station
toward Atlantic City
Atlantic City Express Service Terminus
Interactive map
Wikimedia | © OpenStreetMap
Coordinates40°45′2″N 73°59′38″W / 40.75056°N 73.99389°W / 40.75056; -73.99389Coordinates: 40°45′2″N 73°59′38″W / 40.75056°N 73.99389°W / 40.75056; -73.99389

Penn Station has 21 tracks fed by seven tunnels (the two North River Tunnels, the four East River Tunnels, and the single Empire Connection tunnel). It is at the center of the Northeast Corridor, a passenger rail line that connects New York City with Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and intermediate points. Intercity trains are operated by Amtrak, which owns the station, while commuter rail services are operated by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and NJ Transit (NJT). Connections are available within the complex to the New York City Subway, and buses.

Penn Station is named for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), its builder and original owner, and shares its name with several stations in other cities. The current facility is the remodeled underground remnant of the original Pennsylvania Station, a more ornate station building designed by McKim, Mead, and White and considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. Completed in 1910, it enabled direct rail access to New York City from the south for the first time. Its head house was torn down in 1963, galvanizing the modern historic preservation movement.[7] The rest of the station was rebuilt in the following six years, while retaining most of the rail infrastructure from the original station.

A new direct entrance from 33rd Street to the LIRR concourse opened in December 2020, and Moynihan Train Hall, an expansion of Penn Station into a mixed-use redevelopment of the adjacent Farley Post Office building, opened in January 2021. Future plans for Penn Station include the construction of additional railway platforms in a new southern annex to accommodate two proposed Gateway Program tunnels across the Hudson River, as well as further expansion of the LIRR concourse.[8]

Planning and construction

Pennsylvania Station Excavation by George Bellows (ca. 1907–1908). Brooklyn Museum.

Until the early 20th century, the PRR's rail network terminated on the western side of the Hudson River (once known locally as the North River) at Exchange Place in Jersey City, New Jersey. Manhattan-bound passengers boarded ferries to cross the Hudson River for the final stretch of their journey.[9] The rival New York Central Railroad's line ran down Manhattan from the north under Park Avenue and terminated at Grand Central Depot (later Grand Central Station, now Terminal) at 42nd Street.[10] Many proposals for a cross-Hudson connection were advanced in the late 19th century, but financial panics in the 1870s and 1890s scared off potential investors. In any event, none of the proposals advanced during this time were considered feasible.[11]

An early proposal for a bridge was considered but rejected.[12][13] The alternative was to tunnel under the river, but this was infeasible for steam locomotive use.[14] The development of the electric locomotive at the turn of the 20th century made a tunnel feasible. In 1901, PRR president Alexander Cassatt announced the railroad's plan to enter New York City by tunneling under the Hudson and building a grand station on the West Side of Manhattan south of 34th Street.[15] The station would sit in Manhattan's Tenderloin district, a historical red-light district known for its corruption and prostitution.[16]

Beginning in June 1903, the two single-track North River Tunnels were bored from the west under the Hudson River.[17] A second set of four single-track tunnels, the East River Tunnels, were bored from the east under the East River, linking the new station to Queens, the PRR-owned Long Island Rail Road, and Sunnyside Yard in Queens, where trains would be maintained and assembled.[18] Construction was completed on the Hudson River tunnels on October 9, 1906,[19] and on the East River tunnels on March 18, 1908.[20]

Original structure

Penn Station, exterior, 1911
Penn Station, interior, 1935–1938

A small portion of Penn Station opened on September 8, 1910, in conjunction with the opening of the East River Tunnels, and LIRR riders gained direct railroad service to Manhattan.[21] On November 27, 1910, Penn Station was fully opened to the public.[22] With the station's full opening, the PRR became the only railroad to enter New York City from the south.[23]

During half a century of operation by the Pennsylvania Railroad (1910–1963), scores of intercity passenger trains arrived and departed daily to Chicago and St. Louis on “Pennsy” rails and beyond on connecting railroads to Miami and the west. Along with Long Island Rail Road trains, Penn Station saw trains of the New Haven and the Lehigh Valley railroads. A side effect of the tunneling project was to open the city up to the suburbs, and within 10 years of opening, two-thirds of the daily passengers coming through Penn Station were commuters.[16] The station put the Pennsylvania Railroad at comparative advantage to its competitors offering direct service from Manhattan to the west and south. Other railroads began their routes at terminals in Weehawken, Hoboken, Pavonia and Communipaw which required passengers from New York City to take the interstate Hudson Tubes (now PATH) or ferries across the Hudson River before boarding their trains. By 1945, at its peak, more than 100 million passengers a year traveled through Penn Station.[16]

By the late 1950s, intercity rail passenger volumes had declined dramatically with the coming of the Jet Age and the Interstate Highway System. The station's exterior had become somewhat grimy, and due to its vast scale, the station was expensive to maintain.[24][25] A renovation covered some of the grand columns with plastic and blocked off the spacious central hallway with a new ticket office. The Pennsylvania Railroad optioned the air rights, which called for the demolition of the head house and train shed, to be replaced by an office complex and a new sports complex, while the tracks of the station would remain untouched.[26] Plans for the new Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden were announced in 1962. In exchange for the air rights to Penn Station, the PRR would receive a smaller underground station at no cost and a 25 percent stake in the new Madison Square Garden Complex. Modern architects rushed to save the ornate building, but to no avail;[27] demolition of the above-ground head house began in October 1963.[28] A giant steel deck was placed over the tracks and platforms to allow rail service to continue during construction; photographs of the day showed passengers waiting for trains even as the head house was demolished around them.[24] This was possible because most of the rail infrastructure (including the waiting room, concourses, and boarding platforms) was below street level.[29]

The demolition of the Penn Station head house was controversial and caused outrage internationally.[30][31] "One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat,” the architectural historian Vincent Scully famously wrote of the original station.[32] The controversy over the demolition of such a well-known landmark, and its deplored replacement,[33] is often cited as a catalyst for the architectural preservation movement in the United States.[7] New laws were passed to restrict such demolition. Within the decade, Grand Central Terminal was protected under the city's new landmarks preservation act, a protection upheld by the courts in 1978 after a challenge by Grand Central's owner, Penn Central.[34]

Under Madison Square Garden

Long Island Rail Road concourse
Amtrak concourse

Post-1968, the core Penn Station has been underground, sitting below Madison Square Garden, 33rd Street, and Two Penn Plaza. The core has three levels: concourses on the upper two levels and train platforms on the lowest. The two levels of concourses, while renovated and expanded during the construction of Madison Square Garden, are original to the 1910 station, as are the tracks and platforms.

In 1987, a rail connection to the West Side Rail Yard opened,[35] and in 1991, the opening of the Empire Connection allowed Amtrak to consolidate all of its New York City trains at Penn Station. Previously, trains traveling the Empire Corridor originated and terminated at nearby Grand Central Terminal, a legacy of their history in the New York Central Railroad. With the connection, Amtrak no longer had to maintain two New York stations.[36][37][38] In 1994, the station was renovated to add the 34th Street LIRR entrance and central corridor, along with artwork and improved waiting and concession areas.[39] In 2002, the NJ Transit concourse was created in space previously occupied by retail and Amtrak office space, and in 2009, a new entrance to this concourse was added at 31st Street.

After the September 11 attacks, security was increased and passenger flow curtailed. In 2002, $100 million of work added security features such as lighting, cameras, and barricades.[40] The taxiway under Madison Square Garden, which ran from 31st Street to 33rd Street at mid-block, was permanently closed off with concrete Jersey barriers. Escalators providing direct access to the lobby of Madison Square Garden were closed and later removed. The underground Gimbels Passageway connecting pedestrians to 34th Street–Herald Square has been sealed off since 1986,[41] after decades of safety concerns and sexual assaults.[42]

Despite the modest renovations, the underground Penn Station continued to be criticized as "reviled," "dysfunctional," and a low-ceilinged "catacomb" lacking charm, especially when compared to the much larger and more ornate Grand Central Terminal.[30] The New York Times, in a November 2007 editorial supporting development of an enlarged terminal, said that "Amtrak's beleaguered customers...scurry through underground rooms bereft of light or character,"[43] and Times transit reporter Michael M. Grynbaum called Penn Station "the ugly stepchild of the city’s two great rail terminals."[25] After its nadir in the 1960s, ridership exploded in subsequent decades, a situation never contemplated by the structure's designers. By the 2010s, the station operated at almost three times its intended capacity; 450,000 intercity and commuter riders and 330,000 subway riders used the station daily in 2019.[24]

Expansion

In the early 1990s, U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan proposed building a new station in the James A. Farley Building, the city's former main post office across the street. Moynihan had shined shoes in the original station as a boy.[44][45][46] Many redevelopment or expansion concepts were unveiled over the 1990s and 2000s, but none reached fruition until funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enabled the expansion of the West End Concourse of the LIRR under the Farley Building in 2016.[47] Building on it, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2016 announced plans for renovation of Penn Station and mixed-use redevelopment of the Farley Building, including development of a new train hall, which he called the Empire Station Complex.[48]

The new expansion, Moynihan Train Hall, opened in January 2021, named for the man who had conceived it.[49] The $1.6 billion, 255,000-square-foot (23,700 m2) renovation retained the original, landmarked Beaux Arts Farley Building, added a central atrium with a glass roof, and was finished on time and within budget after three years of construction. The train hall provides new dedicated access for Amtrak passengers, and while LIRR trains are accessible, most LIRR riders are expected to use the existing LIRR concourse in the core station, and all NJ Transit operations remain in the old structure.[50][51] A new 33rd Street entrance to the LIRR concourse opened at the same time.[52]

Diagram of intercity and commuter rail services around New York City, showing Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal

The station is served by 1,300 arrivals and departures per day, twice the number during the 1970s.[53] There are more than 600,000 commuter rail and Amtrak passengers who use the station on an average weekday,[54][55] or up to 1,000 every ninety seconds.[25][56]:498, 891 It is the busiest passenger transportation facility in the United States[57] and in North America.[56]:890–891

Intercity rail

Amtrak

Amtrak owns the station and uses it for the following services:

  • Acela to Boston (northern terminus) and Washington D.C. (southern terminus)
  • Adirondack to Montreal
  • Cardinal to Chicago
  • Carolinian to Charlotte
  • Crescent to New Orleans
  • Empire Service to Albany and Niagara Falls, NY
  • Ethan Allen Express to Rutland
  • Keystone Service to Harrisburg
  • Lake Shore Limited to Chicago
  • Maple Leaf to Toronto
  • Pennsylvanian to Pittsburgh
  • Northeast Regional to Boston or Springfield (northern termini) and Roanoke, Newport News, or Norfolk (southern termini)
  • Palmetto to Savannah
  • Silver Meteor to Miami
  • Silver Star to Miami
  • Vermonter to Washington D.C. (southern terminus) and St. Albans (northern terminus)

All except the Acela Express, Northeast Regional and Vermonter originate and terminate at Penn Station.

Despite its status as Amtrak's busiest station, Amtrak's Superliner railcars cannot use Penn Station due to incompatible platform heights and inadequate clearances in the North River and East River Tunnels.

Amtrak normally uses tracks 5–12 alongside New Jersey Transit and shares tracks 13–16 with the LIRR and NJ Transit.

Commuter rail

Long Island Rail Road

The following Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) services originate and terminate at Penn Station:

  • Babylon Branch to Babylon
  • Belmont Park Branch seasonal service to Belmont Park
  • Far Rockaway Branch to Far Rockaway, Queens in New York City
  • Hempstead Branch to Hempstead
  • Long Beach Branch to Long Beach
  • Montauk Branch to Babylon and Montauk
  • Oyster Bay Branch to Oyster Bay
  • Port Jefferson Branch to Huntington and Port Jefferson
  • Port Washington Branch to Port Washington
  • Ronkonkoma Branch to Ronkonkoma with connecting service to Greenport
  • West Hempstead Branch to Hempstead

All branches connect at Jamaica station except the Port Washington Branch. Jamaica station also connects to Airtrain JFK for service to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Normally, the LIRR uses tracks 17 to 21 exclusively and shares tracks 13 to 16 with Amtrak and NJT. The LIRR uses tracks 11 and 12 on rare occasions.

NJ Transit

The following NJ Transit Rail Operations (NJT) branches originate and terminate at Penn Station:

  • Montclair-Boonton Line to Montclair State University station, with connecting service west to Hackettstown.
  • Morris and Essex Lines, consisting of the Morristown Line to Dover via Morristown and the Gladstone Branch to Gladstone.
  • Northeast Corridor Line to Trenton
  • North Jersey Coast Line to Long Branch, with connecting service to Bay Head
  • Raritan Valley Line to Raritan and High Bridge

NJT normally uses tracks 1 to 4 exclusively, as these four tracks end at bumper blocks to their east. NJT shares tracks 5 through 12 with Amtrak, and occasionally uses tracks 13 to 16, which are shared with Amtrak and the LIRR.

Rapid transit

7th Avenue and 33rd Street entrance

New York City Subway

Connections are available to the following New York City Subway stations:[58]

  • From Penn Station:
    • A, ​C, and ​E trains at 34th Street–Penn Station, under Eighth Avenue
    • 1, ​2, and ​3 trains at 34th Street–Penn Station, under Seventh Avenue
  • From Herald Square, one block east at Sixth Avenue:
    • B, ​D, ​F, , ​M​, N, ​Q, ​R, and ​W trains at 34th Street–Herald Square station, under Broadway & Sixth Avenue

PATH

Connections are also available to the PATH system at 33rd Street station, under Sixth Avenue on Herald Square. The JSQ-33 and HOB-33 services terminate at 33rd Street on weekdays, and are combined into the JSQ-33 (via HOB) service on late nights, weekends and holidays.

Bus and coach

NYC Airporter provides bus transportation to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, and is authorized by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City Department of Transportation.

New York City Bus

The following MTA Regional Bus Operations buses stop near Penn Station:[59]

  • M7 (Lenox, Columbus, Amsterdam, Sixth and Seventh Avenues): southbound to Greenwich Village, via Seventh Avenue; or northbound to Harlem via Sixth, Amsterdam, and Lenox Avenues
  • M20 (Seventh and Eighth Avenues/Varick and Hudson Streets): northbound to Lincoln Center via Eighth Avenue; or southbound to South Ferry via Seventh Avenue
  • M34 Select Bus Service (34th Street Crosstown): westbound to Javits Center; or eastbound to FDR Drive
  • M34A Select Bus Service (34th Street Crosstown): westbound to Port Authority Bus Terminal; or eastbound to Waterside Plaza and Kips Bay
  • Q32 (Fifth and Madison Avenues): northbound only, to Jackson Heights, Queens

Intercity coaches

Intercity bus service to and from Penn Station is provided by BoltBus, Vamoose Bus, Tripper Bus, and Go Buses. BoltBus operates from two stops at Penn Station. Penn Station Bus Stop #1 has service to Baltimore; Greenbelt, Maryland; and two stops in Washington, D.C. Penn Station Bus Stop #2 has service to Boston; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; and Philadelphia. Vamoose Bus runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Bethesda, Maryland; Arlington, Virginia; and Lorton, Virginia.[60] Tripper Bus runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Bethesda, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia.[61] Go Buses runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Newton, Massachusetts and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Airline ticketing

Penn Station includes a United Airlines ticketing office, located at the ticket lobby.[62] This was previously a Continental Airlines ticketing office.[63]

Proposed Metro-North service

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to bring Metro-North Railroad commuter trains to Penn Station as part of its Penn Station Access project. The East Side Access project, expected to open in 2022, will free up track and platform space at Penn Station by redirecting some LIRR trains from Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal. This new capacity, as well as track connections resulting from the East Side Access project, would allow Metro-North trains on the New Haven Line to run to Penn Station via Amtrak's Hell Gate Bridge. Four new local Metro-North stations in the Bronx are planned as part of this project, at Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point. The MTA also proposes a second connection from the Metro-North's Hudson Line to Penn Station using Amtrak's West Side Line in Manhattan.[64] The Penn Station Access project would provide direct rides from Connecticut, Westchester County, the Lower Hudson Valley, and the Bronx to West Midtown; ease reverse-commuting from Manhattan and the Bronx to Westchester County, the Lower Hudson Valley, and Connecticut; and provide transportation service to areas of the Bronx without direct subway service.[65]

West End Concourse

Penn Station does not have a unified design or floor plan but rather is divided into separate Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit concourses with each concourse maintained and styled differently by its respective operator.[66] The Amtrak and NJ Transit concourses are located on the first level below the street level while the Long Island Rail Road concourse is two levels below street level.

The main concourse, which was principally used by Amtrak until the opening of the Moynihan Train Hall, is at the west end of the station directly beneath Madison Square Garden. It was created out of the original station's waiting rooms and main concourse, though few remnants of the original still exist in the space. It was renovated in the early 2000s in anticipation of Acela service and includes an enclosed waiting area for ticketed passengers with seats, outlets and WiFi.[67]

East End Gateway

The LIRR's connecting concourse runs below West 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, as it has since the original station opened in 1910. Significant renovations were made to the LIRR areas over a three-year period ending in 1994, including the opening of the Central Corridor passageway and the addition of a new entry pavilion on 34th Street.[68] The West End Concourse, west of Eighth Avenue, opened in 1986,[69] and was widened and lengthened to cover tracks 5 through 21 in 2017.[70]

The NJ Transit concourse near Seventh Avenue opened in 2002 out of existing retail and Amtrak office space.[71] A new street-level entrance to this concourse at the corner of 31st Street and Seventh Avenue opened in September 2009.[72] Previously, NJ Transit used space in the Amtrak concourse.

The station is so complex that in December 2017, Amtrak and Zyter released a mobile app called FindYourWay to help commuters navigate around Penn Station, though Zyter also plans to roll out the app at other large Amtrak stations.[73] As further evidence of its complexity, the station's three providers use different official addresses for the station.

  • Amtrak: 351 West 31st Street
  • LIRR: 34th Street at 7th and 8th Avenues
  • NJ Transit: 390 7th Avenue

Tracks and surrounding infrastructure

Penn Station track map
Legend
North River Tunnels to Secaucus
to West Side Yard
Empire Connection to Yonkers
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